Chapter 3: Howling At The Moon

Thanks for reading, thanks for the feedback, thanks for the support, and thanks for the constructive

criticism! All the hating in the world won't make me a hater! "You're insane!" (Commander Beckett v.)

"If I wasn't, this would probably never work." (Captain Sparrow v.)

I watched Anthony work. He was easily the best cashier and bagger here. After he cleared his line, he

would bag for the other cashier until their line was clear. There was only one other cashier left. I was

Anthony's bagger. The customers seemed pleased at seeing a young man my age bagging.

"Such a nice young man."

"You gotta train them while they're young." An older lady gave Anthony a knowing look.

"Yes ma'am." Anthony shot me a proud smile.

He was in his zone. I could tell he loved his job. He cared about more than the sales. He valued the

customers. The funny thing was, it didn't seem to be enough.

"Leaving already Mark? We usually get a rush right about now. Would you mind-?"

"Nope," Mark said quickly, turning out his light. "Ealie called off again, didn't he?"

"Yeah." Anthony had that defeated tone he used when he was between a rock and a hard place.

Mark snickered. Anthony glared at him.

"What's so funny?" Anthony demanded.

"You. I'm not throwing you a pity party because you suck at choosing friends."

"We don't need your help anyway." I growled.

"Shut it, shrimp. The grownups are talking. You don't even exist." Mark said, nonchalantly as if I was

invisible.

That hurt and it made me angry. I balled up my fists. Anthony shook his head at me. I unclenched them,

knowing they would only cause Anthony more trouble.

"I'll destroy you, Ealie, and the invisible reject." Mark taunted, just as Ealie sauntered in.

He came in as if he owned the place. He was swaying slightly and reeked of Vodka. He put his arm

around me. I looked to Anthony for help. He was talking to a customer.

"You'll destroy who?!" Ealie raised his voice, catching Mark off guard.

"You're such a loser." Mark said, turning to leave.

Ealie had gripped him up before I could blink.

"If I ever catch you disrespecting my family again Mark, I will destroy you. Now run along with your tail

between your legs." Ealie's words slurred out as he shoved Mark in the opposite direction.

Mark walked away with a scowl on his face. Ealie smiled at me. He looked at Anthony who was busy

with a line of customers. I could tell he was ignoring Ealie. Ealie smirked and then looked at me again.

"Tell him I'm sorry." He whispered.

"You tell him. He's right there." I muttered.

Ealie's expression changed as if he had a moment of clarity.

"He won't listen to me, Mike." He said, somewhat soberly.

"You left him hanging." I shrugged, as I started bagging.

"There was this girl…" Ealie started.

"There's always a girl." Anthony interrupted, not missing a beat, as he gave the customer change from

the register.

"Bro! Bro, she was fine! She was supermodel fine and she wanted to spend time with the champ. My

rep's looking up." Ealie's goofy grin plastered his face.

"Why do you put up with him?" I asked, shaking my head at the table.

"You think I'm a loser, little Mike?" Ealie asked, his face suddenly serious.

"Well, you're always chasing girls and calling off. You put hardworking men to shame. My brother would

better off without you." I said, before I could stop myself.

Ealie looked hurt for a moment. His face was tight and his body was tense. I thought he was going to hit

me. He wasn't even looking at me. A tall woman in a very short skirt walked up to him. Anthony glanced,

but continued working.

"I want more time with the champ." She said, in a pouty voice, grabbing Ealie's wife beater and pulling

him towards the bathroom.

"Duty calls, bro. I'll make it up to you bro!"

"You better be ready at 9AM, Sunday morning."

"Anywhere but that place again…" Ealie pouted halfway into the bathroom.

"That was what I thought when you called off and left me to rot."

"Fine." Ealie snapped, the restroom door closing behind him.

Anthony glared at me.

I looked down. Why was he mad at me?

"Ealie's my problem bro. Stay out of it."

"But…"

"I mean it, Mike. You went too far!"

"You won't say it." I muttered.

"I don't need you to speak for me, Mike."

"You stand up for me, but you won't stand up for yourself!" I yelled.

"Drop it Mike, now!" Anthony growled, with a frustrated sigh, as his manager took his place.

"I'm going on break." Anthony muttered, walking away, and heading to the back of the store.

I stormed out of the store. The manager's worried gaze followed me. I sat on the curb, and proceeded to

inwardly beat myself up. Why did I care anyway? Anthony was only using me because he refused to face

Ealie. Ealie was a bum, who was headed nowhere. He would drag Anthony down too. I knew it,

Anthony's manager knew it, and Ealie knew it too. I heard the clanking of heels walk past me. The

woman in the short skirt looked down at me.

"You might wanna go get your friend, the champ," She was waving a wallet around as she spoke. "He's

sleep on the toilet."

"You stole his wallet." I blurted out.

She looked at it, as if she was seeing it for the first time.

"He should take better care of his things."

"You used him."

"So? He wasn't complaining. How old are you anyway?"

"Fifteen."

"When you get a little older, you'll be a sexy little champ yourself."

"If it means being pick pocketed by someone like you, I'll pass."

She narrowed her eyes.

"You don't know me, you little speck of dirt."

"I do." Ealie was fuming, and stumbling to keep his balance.

"Looking for this?" she asked, taunting him, as she waved his wallet around.

He grabbed her by the wrist, and slapped her heard, snatching the wallet out of her hand. I flinched terribly. It was like watching

my dad slap my mom around when she would get out of line. Ealie tossed me his wallet and I caught it. He slapped her again, and

this time she cried out. He grabbed her by the throat, and as she gasped for air, he threatened to take her life if she ever stole from

him again. I sat there helpless, not knowing what to do.

Anthony ran out and grabbed Ealie. He wrestled him off of her. She hurried to her car, and drove off. I could still hear her choking and

sobbing, as she drove away. Anthony looked furious. He shoved Ealie. Ealie shoved him back.

"What's wrong with you?!" Anthony yelled.

"That hood rat stole from me bro." Ealie snapped, spitting on the ground.

"So? You shouldn't have put your hands on her!"

"Ever stand up to your dad like this?" Ealie taunted, with a sideways grin.

"Ealie, don't." Anthony warned.

"Answer the question bro. He chokes your little brother and beats your mom. You ran away because you couldn't face it, like a man."

Ealie said, shaking his head and laughing.

"I didn't want to be like you!" Anthony yelled.

Ealie's face crumpled at that. He laughed and tried to play it off. I can tell it hurt. This wasn't easy to watch at all. Where was the exit?

"What's wrong with me, bro? I stood up for myself. I went to the penitentiary. I ended him. I ended it. I think I broke one of those

generational curses." Ealie said, flashing a goofy grin.

Anthony threw his hands up.

"No, you only added another link onto it. You do what your dad did. It doesn't end with a gun, Ealie!" Anthony said, shaking his head.

"It doesn't end with running either, coward."

"You're right, it doesn't. I'm done running, Ealie. I found a concrete solution and it's Jesus."

"Don't start this crap again."

"What other option do you have? She's going to send some guy to look for you to either end your life, or make sure you wish he had.

You have to give up this life man."

"It's too late for me bro." Ealie said, joining me on the sidewalk.

We finished up around midnight. Anthony drove Ealie and I home. I sat in the backseat this time. We rode in complete silence. I saw them

exchange glances a couple of times, but they said nothing. I looked over. He was staring at me, smiling sadly. He turned his head forward and

looked between Ealie and Anthony. His mouth moved, but no sound came out. I tried to figure out what he was saying, but I figured it out too

late.

"Truck!"